Friday, October 28, 2016

Inspired

She was withered, she was wasted
she was aching. Incomplete.
She was bowing to a master
begged for mercy at his feet.
He held logic like a dagger
pressing sharp against her back.
She feared ruin and dishonor
her soul, once light-filled, now was black.

She could run from his cold shallows
into the depths of Mystery.
But in a cage of her own making
this desperate heart could not be free.

Inspiration came like springtime
he was bright and warm and new.
His strong hand was on her shoulder
his quiet voice was clear and true.
She let go and held the answer
she walked boldly toward the door.
The master watched her go, bewildered
the dagger dropped down to the floor.

She is free now from her prison
no longer clinging to her fears.
Springtime came and Inspiration
picked her up and dried her tears.

~Becky Robbins

Photo: "New Year", Waterford, Maine by Becky Robbins.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Lullaby

Red red leaves
          and a bright blue sky

wind through trees
          whispers and sighs.

Silent now
          neither rustle nor shake

sleep sleep sleep
          in the spring we shall wake.

~Becky Robbins

Photo: "Autumn Maple Leaves", Paris, Maine by Becky Robbins.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Blue Jay

Blue Jay
24"x18" oil pastel on canvas

This beauty frequents our backyard and we've watched each other enough that she doesn't raise her crest in alarm when she sees me anymore. Such a joy to paint - it's a finger painting!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

My Maine


Photos of beautiful Maine that I've taken over the years. Music by Dave Mallett.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Black-capped Chickadee

This handsome little fellow flew into my window and was stunned. He was almost unconscious when I found him, all crumpled and cold and wet in the grass. He pretty much passed out in my hand and I kept him safe and warm while he recovered. After about 10 minutes he flew away. While I wish windows weren't so dangerous for them, I must say it's an amazing feeling to have a wild bird take off from the palm of your hand. And I love a happy ending!


 So forlorn

He pretty much passed out in my hand



Starting to perk up


He flew away about 2 seconds after I took this shot :)

Great Golden Digger Wasp




"Within the insect order Hymenoptera, family Sphecidae, is the Sphex genus with over 130 recognized species and subspecies. One of the larger and more impressive thread-waisted is the Great Golden Digger Wasp or Sphex ichneumoneus. Aptly named, as the term "ichneumoneus" is Greek for tracker, these robust wasps are known for tracking their prey. Great Goldens are one-half to over an inch in length, though some sightings have reported seeing them as large as two inches. Great Goldens are easily spotted during the summer. Their black head and thorax are covered with short golden hair. Half of the back segment of their abdomen is also black with their front segment and legs a reddish-orange.

"Occurring in North America, Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean, Great Goldens are usually seen in parks, gardens, fields and meadows - anywhere that is sunny, has compacted clay and sand, flower nectar for adults to feed on, and crickets, grasshoppers and katydids for their larvae. The adult wasps subside strictly on sap fluids and a variety of flower nectars that bloom during their flying time. Spotting them is one thing, but observing them can be dicey. Great Goldens do not linger around a bloom for very long and are quite wary of anything larger than they are. Fortunately, though they may look scary, these wasps are not aggressive unless handled and should be left alone. Great Goldens are solitary wasps, live independently and do not share in either nest maintenance or in the caring of their young.




"Between May and August, the female Great Golden, in preparation for egg laying, constructs as many as half a dozen nests. The building of, and provisions for, the nests is done in a concise, methodical manner, which she never deviates from. Rarely is there vegetation around the nests. Most sites are exposed to the sun in an open locale. The female begins digging, almost vertically, by cutting the earth with her mandibles. She walks about an inch backwards from the nesting site with a section of soil between her forelegs and head and flips the soil with her forelegs beneath her body, scattering it to the sides with her hindlegs.


"Great Golden nests have a cylinder shaped main tunnel that is one-half inch in diameter and four to six inches deep. From the main tunnel, she extends secondary tunnels that lead to individual larval cells where she will store anesthetized prey. The cells are broader than the tunnels and parallel to the soil. Once completed, she temporarily closes it after excavation by using the earth that remains by the nest entrance. The female throws it towards the entry with movements identical to those she made when she dug the nest.


"After constructing the burrow, she flies from the nesting area to open fields and hunts for any number of small locally available species of Orthoptera. Great Goldens hunt for crickets (Gryllidae), grasshoppers (Trimerotropis) and katydids (Tettigoniidae) to serve as a food source for her young. Upon capturing a suitable prey, the female Great Golden will paralyze it with toxins in her sting. If the prey is small, she flies it directly to the nest. If prey is too large to transport aerially, the wasp will walk with it across the ground. The prey is clasped beneath her body by grasping its antennas with her mandibles. Once the Great Golden reaches the opening of her nest, she sets the paralyzed insect down. Leaving the prey outside, she goes into the tunnel for inspection. When satisfied that all is well, she comes partially out from the nest and again grasps the prey's antennas pulling it backwards into the nest's interior where it is deposited in a cell with its head turned to the bottom.






"Though the prey is permanently paralyzed, it is able to eliminate feces and slightly move its antennas and mouthparts. Great Golden females close the nest each time prey is placed inside. When she re-enters for egg laying, she emits a set of buzzing sounds as she compacts the earth closing the entrance.

"After the Great Golden has dragged all her paralyzed prey into the nest hole, she lays one egg on each insect, placing it horizontally on the prey's thorax. The eggs are yellow, less than a 1/2 inch long and has a slightly curved cylindrical shape. They hatch within 2-to-3 days of oviposition, and without moving, they begin to feed on the prey's abdomen or at the junction of its leg. The feeding phase is very rapid. In one of the observed cases, the larva consumed even the more rigid parts of the prey's exoskeleton.


"Unfortunately, homeowners, who have these foraging wasps around their landscape and dig holes in their lawn, usually reach for a can of insecticide. Great Goldens are benign, do not defend their nests, are not aggressive and definitely do more good than harm. Hold that can for a moment and realize that like many other wasps, the Great Golden Digger Wasp is quite beneficial to both gardeners and farmers. So please leave them alone to do their job."**


**Text by Candice Hawkinson:  http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/beneficials/beneficial-54_great_golden_digger_wasp.htm


All of these photos are mine, and I feel super lucky to have been able to witness it. This wasp built her nest in a sunny spot at the edge of our gravel driveway here in western Maine. Still hoping for a shot of one flying with a katydid in her arms!